News / Middle East

UNHCR: Africa Refugee Crisis Overshadowed by Syria

Lisa Schlein
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says the plight of millions of refugees and displaced people in Africa is being overshadowed by the crisis in Syria. To mark World Refugee day, the UNHCR is appealing to the international community to remember that Africans who are forcibly displaced by conflict also are in need of support.

Worldwide Refugee Figures for 2012

  • 7.6 million people were displaced
  • 23,000 persons per day were forced to leave their homes
  • 35.8 million people were protected by the UNHCR
  • More than half the world's refugees came from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan
  • Women and girls accounted for 48% of the refugee population
The U.N. refugee agency reports there are more than 45 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world.  This is the highest level of displacement since the Rwanda genocide and breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1994 caused millions of people to flee their homes.

UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards, says conflict is the primary cause of displacement.

“Over the last year in particular, the big game changer has been Syria.  Syria went from being the major refugee hosting country of the Middle East to last year being one of the top five refugee and displacement producing countries of the world," said Edwards. "This year it is number one.  That is a very alarming turnaround and that makes a major change in the global displacement picture."

Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)
x
Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)
Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)
As a continent, the UNHCR says Africa is the second largest producer of displacement in the world.  Asia, largely because of Afghanistan, is the biggest.  Currently, Africa has 2.8 million refugees and some 10 million internally displaced people.

While these numbers are huge, Edwards says the drama of crises like that occurring in Syria tend to eclipse other ongoing crises.

“You have, just in the last year some very serious refugee crises - some new ones and some continuing ones in Africa.  You have the Mali situation.  You have a big crisis in Central African Republic," he said. "Now we are seeing recent displacement across borders from northeast Nigeria.  We continue to have Africa’s world war - the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  There are, having said all that, some glimmers of hope in the situation and some positives that have happened over the last year."

Last year, Edwards says a number of long-running refugee crises in Africa came to an end.  He says more than one-quarter of a million people were voluntarily repatriated to their homes of origin in Angola, Burundi, Ivory Coast, the DRC and Liberia. 

He says there are hopeful signs that Somali refugees might one day begin returning to the homes they fled years ago.  But that, he adds, will only happen if the country continues down the path of peace and stability.

You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bakhtiar Basher Husein from: Iraq
June 20, 2013 12:54 PM
Terrific data and shocking in the same time. International Refugees concern is mostly an outcome of differentiation of national interests of powerful countries in the international arena.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid